Fishermen are still trading – but with uncertainty of their futures as proposed restrictions could stop their trade “overnight,” it is claimed. Terry Noakes, the managing director of Folkestone Trawlers, was invited to London to meet with Dr Thérèse Coffey, the minster for the environment. He was joined by MP Damian Collins and fishermen Tony Hills and Paul Beresford.
They discussed the selection of sites that could be included in the third phase of consultation in adopting Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around the coastline. The MCZs are enforced to protect the marine wildlife, although Mr Noakes said there is no evidence to suggest that fishing can cause an adverse impact to the seabeds. There are two proposed areas off the coast at Folkestone and Hythe that could be under threat of becoming restricted.
Terry Noakes the managing director of Folkestone Trawlers speaks about his six year fight to get restricting fishing quotas lifted. Mr Noakes said: “It has taken six years of time in coming to this stage and within these six years we have been fighting our cause and proving there is no evidence that we destroy the seabed. “A storm can do more damage to the sea bed than a fisherman could do in his lifetime.” It is understood Dr Coffey listened to the fishermen for 20 minutes, but there has been no feedback as to what will happen next. Mr Collins said in his weekly column: “We are concerned that Hythe Bay should not be put forward for consideration in this final round of consultations. “Restrictions on fishing in Hythe Bay would have a terrible impact on the local trawlermen and this cannot be allowed to happen.”
Mr Noakes said that fishermen act as a part of the food chain and that if the fish are not caught, they will eat other species around them and cause more detriment. He added: “It is a dying trade, the only thing that is going to uplift the inshore fleet is to get more quotas so we can upgrade our boats and start employing more people. “If these MCZs are implemented, we are finished.” An idea has been put forward to permit the Hythe Bay area to ensure that it is not over-fished by those from different areas.
Mr Noakes, a father-of-three, said: “We want to stop over fishing and for us to come out of the quota system. “We could run the permit scheme ourselves or with the Marine Maritime Organisation.” The quota system is an EU law which sees restrictions on the amount of fish that can be caught and the species.
It remains unknown as to whether this system will be dropped when Britain officially leaves the EU.